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Survey: 2 million women widowed or divorced in Iraq

Image of women and children at a refugee camp [file photo]
Image of women and children at a refugee camp [file photo]

Near continuous violence, absence of government assistance and a social fabric that is spiralling out of control has made Iraq’s women face some of the highest divorce rates in the world, as a frightening number of them are widowed daily due to the ongoing Iraqi government offensive to recapture Mosul from Daesh.

As part of a food security survey conducted by the official Iraqi Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the review showed that almost two million Iraqi women were either divorced or widowed.

On Monday, Abdulzahra Al-Hindawi, the spokesman for the Iraqi planning ministry, was cited by Alkhaleej Online as confirming the above: “The number of divorcees and widows throughout Iraq in general has now risen to 1,983,000.”

Al-Hindawi suggested that this number could be significantly higher as “the survey did not include the two provinces of Ninawa and Anbar, as well as a number of districts of Kirkuk and Salahuddin.”

The four provinces mentioned by the official spokesman are some of those that have witnessed some of the heaviest fighting between US-backed Iraqi government troops and allied Shia jihadists on one side, with Daesh extremists on the other.

In these and other areas, Shia militants fighting under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) paramilitary organisation and within the police and army, have committed grave war crimes against mostly Sunni Arab civilians.

An example of this are the almost 640 men from Saqlawiyah near Fallujah still unaccounted for after Iran-backed militants abducted them last summer during an Iraqi government offensive. These men almost certainly left behind families that were dependant on them.

Aside from the military confrontations and terrorism, Iraq is also facing rising rates of domestic violence against women. Women are often disadvantaged in Iraq, and their status in society has actually decreased substantially since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Rampant nepotism, corruption and chronic mismanagement has led to an Iraqi economy that is suffering, particularly with the drastic reduction in oil prices in recent years. Social problems relating to unemployment and poverty have led to breakdowns of marriages, and increased incidences of violence against women.

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